When we believe a disempowering story, our lives are so much harder than they need to be. We attract events that support our diminished sense of self. The universe speaks in preferences, so our story projects that disempowering energy. When we believe an empowering story, our energy attracts new desirable results.
My client, Vanessa, was distraught when she came to our coaching session. Once again her direct report had “screwed it up!” Vanessa was VP of customer service for a large bank and her department numbered in the hundreds. Her employee had just angered another client, and Vanessa was furious.
Vanessa was a tough boss. She believed that to be successful in her competitive environment she should set extremely high standards and berate anyone who did not live up to them.
Her employees were terrified of her.
Our story is the explanation we have for the way things are. Often our story is so deeply embedded that we can’t see it—like a fish looking for water. We find our story by pausing to observe “the way things are” and reflect on how our actions support that story.
Vanessa believed tough bosses were the successful ones. After all, that’s how her mentor had been successful. For her, “leadership” and “tough boss” were the same thing. That story was reflected in her actions.
It was an incredibly stressful way to live.
In our work together, we uncovered her values. She valued beauty and compassion, integrity and honesty. We looked at where those values were showing up in her life in that moment.
She shared how her time at the spa was glorious; it had such a calming effect. The beautiful surroundings, being swaddled in fluffy robes, and compassionate attendants providing for her every whim. She also loved shopping! Her home was filled with expensive artwork; beauty was as attainable as whipping out her debit card.
It was a little tougher to find her values of integrity and honesty. Sure, all her bills were paid; the indulgences were not beyond her budget. But her relationship with her husband was based on her continuing to be a bountiful provider, not on mutual love and respect. She didn’t trust him and he didn’t trust her.
She came to realize that the lifestyle she had created was padding to protect her from the negative stressful workplace. “Tough boss” was simply a story, not Vanessa’s true nature. She was so far out of integrity that her life had become unmanageable.
She was miserable.
When we change our story, we change our energy. When we change our energy, it attracts opportunities that were not visible before.
Vanessa realized that adopting a role that didn’t align with her authentic self was deception. Squeezing into the mold of “tough boss” was, for her, dishonest.
She decided to create a new story, one that allowed her values to show up in the workplace. Her new and more delightful story was that her job was like going to a spa, designed to bring comfort and calm.
She embraced a more compassionate heart toward her employees. The standards were still high, but the harsh punishment shifted toward encouragement instead. Rather than using retail therapy to feel better, she rewarded her achievers when things went well. That felt good for everyone.
Naturally, the employees were skeptical at first, but her shift was genuine. She had finally been honest with herself and was determined to live with integrity. Work was more fun! It took a while, months actually, but as her behavior changed, the workplace changed.
The shift in energy opened different doors. She was offered a promotion, which she declined. Her husband was horrified, but they parted friends. She volunteered at an animal shelter and met a very nice, compassionate man. Last I heard, they were contemplating a life together.
Every day we have the opportunity to tell a different story. When we adopt more authentic stories, our thoughts and identity align with our brilliant selves. Our paths shift as we take baby steps in new directions, and our lives change.
When we choose a different story we get different results.